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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all.

I am an experienced kayaker and I am looking to purchase a raft. The first reason being would be to take friends (4 maybe 6) out on a local class 2/3 run. The second would be to have a platform to do some multi-day river trips in the PNW.

My rafting experience is limited, but I have done trips on the Lower Salmon and various day trips in other places.

I am looking for a destination to head to in early May. I am based in Vancouver and would be willing to travel for this - maybe around 15 hours drive max. The trip length is flexible but somewhere from 3-7 days would be ideal. I would be traveling with just one car, so some option of a shuttle would probably help! Any suggestions welcomed. I understand the Lower Salmon maybe too high? What is the Rogue River like? - How hard are permits to obtain?

The second challenge is to purchase a raft and appropriate gear! The budget and timeframe are fairly limited. I am looking to spend around $1500, then expand the setup over the next few years, but have something suitable to go with for now on a multi day. I know full well you get what you pay for (mostly) but how would something like this work for me - 12 ft whitewater river raft with self bailing and high pressure airmat

I know this is a small raft, but it would just be myself and one other on the multi day. Maybe taking more people out on day trips without a frame/gear.

I would likely then outfit this with an NRS Frame, Seat and Oars. Would I be crazy to take a raft on the multi day run without oars/rig and just use paddles, allowing an extra day or two? Saving some $ for later!

Would be great to hear any thoughts or suggestions - also keen to hear anyone who has any used gear/ frame for sale in the area.

Thanks for any help,
Harry
 

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You're gonna get "strongly encouraged" on here to steer clear of budget boats like aquamarines. I generally agree. Buy a solid brand used, and run options by the buzzards - these folks know so much about rafts it's crazy.
 

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I am by no means an expert but here is my $0.02.

- If $1,500 is your budget I think you are going to need to look for a fairly old used boat with frame and oars already; if you are thinking multi-day with one person you either do some nutty R2 set-up or are rowing with a passenger. At that price point, not a lot to be had unless you find a golden-oldie. Other option is to rent.
- As far as Rivers, I don't know if the Rogue is a great idea for a newbie rafter. There are really only 3 trouble spots (Rainie Falls, Mule Creek and Blossom Bar). Rainie is easy to get around as long as you know where you are going, Mule Creek is not terribly difficult but would be a crap swim and that leaves you with Blossom. If flows are high (5-6K+ I'd guess) it is just a fun read and run rapid, if not, there is one or two moves to make with consequences if you don't. I have been fortunate enough to miss the move and ALLOWED a very long swim. Don't get me wrong, the Rogue is amazing but not exactly where I would go my first trip out.
- I would say the Lower Deschutes is a good bet or perhaps the Grand Ronde. 7 days is a lot to ask but you can get three to five days easy if you don't mind lots of time in camp. Other option would be to float all of Lower Deschutes, you would need to make a shuttle mid trip though as their is some unnavigable water in the middle. I will be making my first trip to Idaho this year for a multi-day so others will have to speak to those.
 

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Rent for multi day trips. The odds of finding a boat worthy of an Idaho multiday in your price range is very slim. People always forget how expensive the little things are. Straps, nets, coolers, dryboxes, kitchen, pumps, oars, blades, repair kit, groover.....
Unless you land in a crew that lets you tag along with just personal gear renting is a superior option.
Yes, some of this stuff can be rigged for free/cheap. but it would suck to travel to ID with a ghetto rig and fight your equipment the whole time, or to lose some of it due to inadequate strappage or calamity.

Where I work we rent multi day rigs ready to go roughly $400 for a 5 day trip. You still have to cobble toghether a kitchen though. Come to our shop and dial in your rig with help or have us do it for you. I'm on the wrong side if Idaho for you but the prices are pretty comparable to what you should pay in Boise etc. You might even find that driving that far without a rig pay for a good portion of the rental.

Find a good used boat for local paddleboating. Possibly consider a bucket boat if you are sticking to class III and budget is a real concern. Again people forget the cost of paddles and a PFD for each person. a $1000 boat is going to run you $1500 to actually get out there fully equipped with new accessories.

The ad you posted is pretty typical of the cheaper glued PVC boats now widely available. The internal chicken line looks very dodgy. The tube diameter looks smallish. If the thwart diameter is 13" and the tubes roughly match 6 people will sink that ship. The bail holes look woefully inadequate and attaching that style of floor to the 'bucket' floor has proven to be a challenge to most/all mfg using this design. I have gone through a couple of them. I should know.

On a lower salmon trip about 7 years ago I came across a group with similar boats, PVC frames, hodge podge oars generally questionable equipment. They were beached above snow hole patching floors, taping frames, looking for more rope and generally looking scared to death of losing all their stuff in a very straighforward rapid. We gave them some parts to get through the rapid/trip. They did not flip but if they had I can't imagine those frames holding in a cooler or those coolers holding out any water. At that moment they did not look like they were having fun.
BUT BUT BUT they were on the river and probably enjoyed the bulk of the trip a great deal.

Idaho worthy boat rental prices from the website:
This package is for the boater with some experience. It takes knowledge and some skill to equip a raft like this for an overnight backcountry adventure. If this is what you're looking for then we have what you need. This Package will get you the following: raft, frame, 3 oars, 3 PFDs, 8 straps, a drop bag, a cooler, a repair kit, a pump, a throw bag, and a bow line. We also offer other gear that you may want for your trip check down in accessories.

The Row Package 1 Day 2–3 Days 4+ Days
10.5' Self-Bailing $55 $55/day $50/day
14' Self-Bailing $70 $70/day $65/day
15' Self-Bailing $70 $70/day $65/day
16' Self-Bailing $75 $75/day $70/day

Accessories 1 Day 2–3 Days 4+ Days
PFDs $2.50 $2/day $2/day
Wet Suits $10 $7/day $5/day
Booties $3 $2/day $2/day
Splash Suit $7 $5/day $4/day
Groover $12 $9/day $7/day
Dry Box $6 $5/day $4/day
Cooler $6 $5/day $4/day
Paddle $1 $1/day $0.50/day
Oar $4 $3/day $2/day
 

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And let me add: I have seen a number of groups over the years on multi day trip in just paddle rigs. Maybe 4 guys in a 14' raft with backpacking gear in drybags. This is a totally legit way to get it done and by FAR the cheapest.
 

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That guy must not know what he's selling. I'd snatch that up assuming the rubber doesn't need any major repairs. It looks like it wasn't even used.

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I think that is a pretty good deal and a great starter. I'd jump on it. Get a five gallon bucket thrown in for bailing and get on the riv. Hippity Ho!
 

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Many thanks for all of the responses.

Could somebody please advise their thoughts on this - price / suitability

Avon Whitewater Raft - Drifter
The dry box isn't really a dry box but that looks like just what you are looking for. Not good for huge water but a small bucket boat like that can be a lot of fun.

As flya mentioned you are far from done. Pump, repair kit, straps and other gear will add. Firepan on most rivers, toilet etc.
 

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Yeah. thats a great starter boat. You could probably run it for a couple of years and sell it for the same price when you move up to a bigger self bailer.
 

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I started in much the same rig - an old Avon. Go for it! Its a great way to start, you can't lose much on the deal (older bucket boats are popular with fishermen throughout the Northwest).

As far as rivers this May, Lower Deschutes, John Day, and the Grande Rhonde are all good candidates.

One final thought: In the earlier days of rafting, we all bailed our boats, and plenty of us ran higher volume rivers (without being foolish) in smaller boats.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
 

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BUY THAT RAFT

...if the baffles are good.

If the rubber is as nice as it looks in the picture, that is a sweet boat. Take care of it and it would be well worth it to have a self bailing floor professionally installed down the road. That's not a starter raft, that's a keeper raft.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all, am picking up the raft next Tuesday.

The plan is then to take it out on the Grande Ronde - Minnam to either Troy or keep going to Heller Bar.

At currently flows (2k CFS) with 5-7 days, how long would either take? Happy to be spending a decent amount of time at camps and hiking or being on the river, just debating options.

I am hoping to catch some fish on this trip I have some very very basic fishing knowledge, but pointers would be great. Which Fish should I be catching? What bait/ flys? Should I use a fly rod? Can I catch and eat the fish? Do I need a fishing permit? - Any other pointers, please!

What about rattle snakes? How much of a threat are they - What would you do in the event of a bite? (Will be carrying a spot and first aid kit) Would you press the SOS button on the spot if you were more than say 2 hours float from a road?

Is there any reason I would do another river such as John Day or Lower Deschutes over this?

Is there any day runs between Seattle and the GR that I could hone my skills in on?

Thank you all for your very sound advice.
 

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Is there any day runs between Seattle and the GR that I could hone my skills in on?
The day stretch on the Deschutes around Maupin has around 10 miles of fun, generally pretty forgiving Class III that makes for some great whitewater training. It can be broken up into shorter stretches as well.
 

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The plan is then to take it out on the Grande Ronde - Minnam to either Troy or keep going to Heller Bar.

At currently flows (2k CFS) with 5-7 days, how long would either take? Happy to be spending a decent amount of time at camps and hiking or being on the river, just debating options.


What about rattle snakes? How much of a threat are they...

Is there any reason I would do another river such as John Day or Lower Deschutes over this?
Boggans Oasis is another good take out on the Grand Ronde. Plus, they have milkshakes.

Grand Ronde and Lower Deschutes have similar characteristics and both are appropriate for new rowers. The Camping on the Grand Ronde is second to none, but there are likely to be a LOT of people. Lower Deschutes is permitted, so you generally don't have TOO much competition for campsites. Minam to Boggans Oasis can easily be done in 3 days at a pretty leisurely pace at 2K.

Snakes are a real threat on both rivers, but more so on the Grand Ronde. I haven't seen any, but I have heard more than one out there. Ticks are also a real problem - see the recent post RE Deschutes Ticks.
 

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I'm a beginner boater myself and we just floated the Grand Rhonde from boggins oasis to heller bar just last weekend. Super fun float no snakes or bugs. Only rapid is the narrows which u actually IKed. Great float over 2 days. Next time I will put in farther upriver. FYI we didn't see anyone else floating that whole weekend. Saw large fish jumping through the narrows possibly steelhead?

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi All,

After a successful parking lot purchase of our new raft, we headed to Minam. The raft worked a treat and is ideal for what we're looking for!

We used the Minam Store's Shuttle service to take the car to Heller Bar, thoroughly recommended - they even delivered the car a day early after an email from Boggans Oasis. We did Minam -> Heller Bar in 5 days and 4 nights, which seems like a nice amount of time to do it in. The flow I believe was around 2.3K. The camping was excellent, especially good in the upper half of the river, in the forested sections. All the rapids seemed good to go, Martin's Misery soon became our misery as our leash-less oar floated away.. spare oar to the rescue before gathering oar #1 back at the end of the rapid. The other rapids of note were the 2 rapids in the narrows. We did scout them, but there really isn't anything to them at the level we had - big waves and straight down the middle, decent sized eddies afterwards. The bridge rapid shortly after also was of a good size.

As for wildlife, we saw lots of jumping fish, garden snakes x3, many geese and their ducklings, and an eagle or two. No creatures any bigger than this though and no bears or rattlers - which we were happy about! It is well worth stopping at Boggans Oasis (It's at the bridge) and grabbing shakes/ice/wifi if you need. The store at minam is well stocked with things you may need too, we didn't stop in Troy.

An enjoyable first trip on our own, the drive out from Heller Bar and all the Sandy Beaches reminded me of the good sized rapids on the Lower Salmon and the perfect Sand-Beach camping.. This is on the to-do list again soon!

Happy floating!











 
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